Stories

Simone Carson mentors Ronaldine Tchivi to drive food security in Vanuatu

Friday, 16 October 2020

SecondBite Co-founder and Director Simone Carson AM is sharing her leadership and food security knowledge with Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) scholar Ronaldine Tchivi to help her drive positive change in Vanuatu.

Simone is a leading food rescue and food waste advocate in Australia, and Ronaldine is a Food Science and Technology student who wants to positively impact Vanuatu’s agriculture and food sector – including by teaching young people how to be part of solutions to tackle food insecurity. 

On World Food Day 2020 as the world examines food-secure COVID-19 recovery, the duo says effective leadership must provide “collaboration, communication, culture and community” to ensure no one is left behind.

Working together to build Ronaldine’s leadership capacity

In order to build skills needed to drive positive outcomes in Vanuatu’s food security, Ronaldine applied for and joined WLI’s Leadership and Mentoring program in 2020.

As a participant of the program, Ronaldine was matched with Simone as her mentor.

Simone’s non-profit organisation SecondBite redistributes food that would otherwise head to landfill to local charities and communities in need around Australia – alleviating both food waste and insecurity. 

Given the challenges of COVID-19 on their work together, Simone says the pair settled on two simple objectives: “growing a network to support Ronaldine’s work on return home; and providing opportunities for Ronaldine to tell her story in a safe, supportive environment”.

Ronaldine says working with Simone not only helped her build her networks and tell her story, but learn more about strategies used to combat food waste in Australia.

Their time together also helped Ronaldine develop her own ideas on how to improve Vanuatu’s approach to food security.  

Simone reflects, “There is nothing more rewarding than supporting and encouraging others to achieve their full potential … in return, we are challenged, we are educated, and we grow.”

“I feel becoming a Women’s Leadership Initiative mentor has been a nurturing experience for myself and also an opportunity to say thank you for the opportunities I have been given,” Simone says.

Strong leadership in food-secure COVID-19 recovery

Reflecting on strong leadership in food security through COVID-19, the pair agrees leaders must find new ways of adapting and working together to ensure people can access food – ultimately supporting public health.

This is critical for vulnerable communities whose wellbeing and access to healthy food was already jeopardised by financial insecurity, ill-health or limited accessibility before COVID-19.

“Helping people to have regular access to fresh, nutritious food will support good health outcomes,” Simone says, “It is important that people realise that if all the food that is thrown out around the world was saved, we would have enough food to prevent hunger globally.”

To do that, “We must be able to share our stories, our data and learn from each other,” Simone says, “It’s important not to be afraid to challenge what has been done [or] to ask ‘Why not try this?’”

Ronaldine says in Vanuatu, local food supplies have taken a huge hit, not only from the impacts of COVID-19, but Tropical Cyclone Harold – which struck the Pacific Islands concurrently, further limiting access to food and humanitarian support.  

In response, she explains collaboration between the Vanuatu Ministry of Agriculture and the National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) meant the Food Security and Agriculture Cluster (FSAC) was developed.

“This establishment ensures that the locally grown produce from the southern islands of Vanuatu Tanna, Erromango and Shefa is being re-distributed to the affected northern islands of Santo, Malekula and Pentecost,” Ronaldine says.

On World Food Day and every day, Ronaldine wants people to know that “food is everyone’s business”.

As consumers, Ronaldine says we “play a very important role in the food system”, because what we buy, where we buy it from, and how well we store it, affects the whole food supply chain.

“[By] buying a variety of food produced we assist to maintain or increase the production of food diversity, supporting all people in the food supply chain,” Ronaldine says.

And in turn, “Our bodies are benefiting from these foods [and] they are healthier,” Ronaldine says, “It is a win-win situation.”

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Ronaldine and Simone are participants of the Women’s Leadership Initiative 2020 Leadership & Mentoring Program.